Disc Herniation & Sciatica
Anatomy of the Sciatic Nerve
A herniated disc, often referred to as a bulged disc, disc bulge, or disc protrusion, causes nerve pain by pressing on the nerve roots as they exit the spinal cord. The location and severity of your pain depend on the spinal level of the disc herniation. For example, the Sciatic Nerve comes from the spinal levels L4-S3 and runs down the back of your buttocks, thigh, knee, calf, and foot. Compression to the Sciatic Nerve can result in numbness, tingling, stabbing, or shooting pain anywhere along the path of the nerve. The most common symptoms are shooting pain down the back of the leg, and associated muscle weakness, difficulty walking, and foot drop.
As you can see in the picture of the Sciatic Nerve, there are a few places where the nerves can become compressed or entrapped. Common areas of entrapment are disc herniations at the L4-L5 or L5-S1 levels, underneath the Piriformis muscle, or as the nerve exits the bottom of the pelvis. Your symptoms will be different depending on the site of entrapment and cause of your condition.
Pain from disc herniation is usually the most severe, while pain from Piriformis Syndrome or nerve compression at the Sciatic notch is typically more localized and less severe. Regardless of the cause of your pain, chiropractic care can provide immense pain relief and prevent future recurrence of your condition!
How Is The Cause of Sciatica Determined?
The most well known way to diagnose a disc herniation is through the use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI. However, most cases of disc herniation can be diagnosed through a thorough exam consisting of range of motion, orthopedic tests, and testing your muscle strength, reflexes, and sensory deficits. It is generally a better course of action to undergo a 2 week trial of conservative care before ordering advanced imaging. This will save you money, get you out of pain quicker and be more effective long term than jumping straight to MRI/surgery/injections.
Chiropractic Treatment for Sciatica and Disc Herniation
The first phase of treatment consists of treatments to provide immediate pain relief. This includes chiropractic adjustments to restore proper joint function and relieve pressure on the nerve roots. Physio-therapies such as electrical muscle stim, ice pack cryotherapy, and therapeutic ultrasound are used to provide pain relief and decrease the inflammation associated with your condition. Depending on the severity and cause of your pain, we may use gentle adjustment techniques that do not involve forceful twisting of your spine. The next phase of treatment focuses on stabilizing the injured area to prevent the injury from coming back. In addition to the techniques listed above, we will provide you specific exercises to strengthen your low back and pelvis to take pressure off of your discs. To take the first step towards pain relief, call (612) 440-5776 or schedule an appointment online today!